The Fire Industry Association (FIA) has announced the first company to successfully achieve ISO 9001 quality accreditation and BAFE certification through the associations Route to Certification initiative.
Western Isles Fire Protection was formed as a new business in February 2009 by Mark Robb to provide fire extinguisher supply, service and maintenance throughout the Western Isles from its base in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. Mark, who had successfully achieved registration under the BAFE ST104 Portable Fire Extinguisher Service Technicians Scheme in his previous job, knew the importance of ensuring quality through third party certification. He decided at the outset that he wanted his company to be ISO and BAFE registered, and to be an FIA member, so approached the FIA to see what he needed to do.
As part of the FIAs commitment to raising standards in fire safety, all FIA members have to be registered to BS EN ISO 9001 (or equivalent). In addition, those involved in the design, installation, commissioning, handover and/or maintenance of fire alarm, detection and extinguishing systems must hold the relevant modules of BAFE SP 203 or equivalent (LPS 1014, LPS 1204), while those companies engaged in the contract maintenance of portable fire extinguishers must obtain approval under the BAFE SP101/ST104 scheme.
Martin Duggan, FIA General Manager, comments, It was a difficult decision for us when we introduced this qualifying criteria because of the implications in terms of losing members and potential members. However, as an association we are fully committed to third party certification as a means of demonstrating competence in fire safety so it was a step that we knew we had to take. In doing so we did recognise that we had a responsibility to help existing members and those that wanted to join us who did not already have the schemes in place so we introduced our Route to Certification initiative.
Western Isles Fire Protection was a company that took up the initiative, selecting XBS Business Solutions from a number of organisations recommended by the FIA to assist in gaining its ISO 9001 accreditation and liaising with Tony Maskens, BAFE Technical Schemes Manager, to achieve BAFE registration.
Mark Robb said, As a new company starting up I wanted to achieve ISO and BAFE within my first year of trading which meant getting started on it as soon as possible. Although I was a BAFE engineer at my last company I didnt know exactly what was involved in achieving ISO and BAFE registration for myself so initially it appeared a little daunting. So for me getting in touch with the FIA was a good move they initialised the string of events which lead to the end result of my company gaining registration on both fronts. Daryl at XBS was a great help and made the process easy to follow. From getting in touch with the FIA in April, by mid-October I had achieved what I set out to do. The whole thing was carried out very professionally but at the same time I found it all a lot less stressful than I thought it would be.
Daryl Alder of XBS comments, It certainly helped that Mark had already worked in the fire industry but what his experience of gaining ISO certification does hopefully demonstrate is that the process is not as onerous as some people imagine. Much of what we did in terms of developing procedures for the quality manual and record keeping was based around what Mark already had in place.
Tony Maskens at BAFE said, We were obviously pleased that Mark saw the value in his BAFE registered status from his previous employment and saw the benefits it could bring to his new business. It is important to realise that having an independently verified means of demonstrating your competence in fire extinguisher servicing and maintenance provides an all important commercial edge in a market where the focus on competency will only get even more intense.
Michael Gregg, Membership Manager with the FIA, sees the scheme as vital for the smaller companies in the FIA, While we have inevitably had to cancel the membership of some companies that would not commit to the quality route that we are determined to follow, our membership has actually increased from 263 to 332 a very healthy 26 percent increase. Many of the newer members are smaller companies who do need help and guidance in terms of understanding the cost, the timescales and how to go about actually achieving registration. It is these companies that we are focusing on as a means of further establishing what is effectively a quality benchmark for providers of fire protection products and services.